The parallel universe where Mitt leads all polls

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Brass, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. Brass


    The parallel universe where Mitt leads all polls

    To talk with any working Republican political operative these days is to hear the same tale of woe: a grim accounting of the last few weeks, a dash of gallows humor and a measure of hope that President Obama is still beatable. Never in question is that Mitt Romney is trailing - the private surveys these strategists see for their down-ballot clients make that clear. The only question is how much.

    But, hanging up the phone or clicking out of e-mail, is to find a parallel universe on the right. On TV, talk radio and especially the internet is a place where the swing-state polls showing Romney losing are not just inaccurate but part of an intentional plot by the heretofore unknown media-pollster axis to depress Republican voters. In this other world, Romney not only isn't losing - he's on the verge of a convincing victory.

    "I believe if the election were held today, Romney would win by four or five points," trumpeted Dick Morris on Fox News last week, predicting a win for the GOP ticket in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. In public polls right now, Romney is losing in each of those states. But, Morris said, that's because the data is all wrong.

    "People need to understand that the polling this year is the worst it has ever been," said the onetime Clinton svengali turned conservative pundit.

    Conservative talk radio king Rush Limbaugh senses something more nefarious in the media and university polls.

    "They are designed to do exactly what I have warned you to be vigilant about, and that is to depress you and suppress your vote," Limbaugh told his listeners last week, after bringing up swing-state surveys from The Washington Post and CBS News and Quinnipiac University. "These two polls today are designed to convince everybody this election is over."

    There has always been a divide between the Republican consultant class and conservative media figures, of course. Operatives must dwell in the real world because their jobs depend on winning and losing. The likes of Morris and Limbaugh have different incentives. They want to build their email lists and listening audiences and there's no faster way to conservative hearts than to kick the dreaded MSM. And, when it's well after Labor Day of a presidential year and the Republican nominee isn't faring well, reassuring the home team that there's just a scoreboard malfunction offers a seeming dose of logic to the situation.

    But the internet has let the alternate campaign reality flower this fall in a way that's both striking and depressing to political professionals and pollsters. One website,, even readjusts the public polling to include more Republicans in samples. The results: Romney leads in nearly every national poll released in September. Of course arbitrarily re-weighting polls is wildly unscientific, but that hasn't stopped Republicans like Limbaugh and even Texas Gov. Rick Perry from mentioning the site.

    "Always nice to get unfiltered or in this case 'unskewed' information," Perry tweeted last week with a link to the page.

    Andrew Kohut, President of the Pew Research Center and before that the head of Gallup, said it's a matter of simple denial.

    "We've moved from a place where it looked like the race was close and there's now an unwillingness to accept reality," said Kohut. "So if you don't like the message you shoot the messenger."

    The attempt to debunk polls is in many ways the logical, if absurd, outgrowth of a choose-your-own-adventure political news environment where partisans have outlets that will echo their views.

    "It's 'you-are-right' news," sighed longtime Republican strategist Mike Murphy, adding that if it was Democrats losing liberals would be baying about "Rupert [Murdoch] doing mind-control on the numbers."

    But it's one thing to advocate for a preferred party and portray the other in the worst possible light. Questioning the integrity of professional pollsters is something different: it's preposterous.

    Consider: For the vast polling conspiracy of 2012 to be legitimate, that would presume that longtime GOP pollster Bill McInturff is on the deal. McInturff co-runs the respected Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll with veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart.

    McInturff is also business partners with Neil Newhouse, Romney's own pollster. So, by this standard, Romney's own campaign could also be part of the conspiracy to...hurt the Romney campaign.

    Of course, there's no such motivation on the part of any pollster hired by mainstream news organizations to gauge public opinion.

    "The Prime Directive of pollster survival is to make sure you 'get it right' -- whether that be good or bad -- for your party," McInturff explained in an e-mail.

    There are, to be sure, legitimate discussions in the political community about the partisan breakdown of the recent public polls and whether pollsters should begin to weight data with party preference.

    But the recent results that have sparked this wave of conspiracy-mongering owe not to any sort of intentional rigging but the different ways surveys are now conducted.

    "Polling has become very complex with most variation between different pollsters a function of the sample -- what percentage of respondents are cellphone only, what percent are 18 to 29 years old or the total percent under or over 45 years old, and the percentage of white versus non-white respondents," noted McInturff.

    For example, the automated Rasmussen polls, which have tended to favor Romney, don't contact voters on cell phones, which makes it harder to reach younger voters.

    The Romney campaign has repeatedly pointed to Rasmussen and Gallup's tracking polls in recent weeks to rebut the wave of state-level surveys that have shown Obama opening up a lead.

    At a Sept. 18 fundraiser in Utah, Romney finance director Spencer Zwick touted Rasmussen's numbers in the face of mounting data showing a grimmer picture. "We're seeing the polls tighten in key states," Zwick said. The day before, senior Romney strategist Stuart Stevens played down reports of campaign infighting by telling POLITICO that Rasmussen and Gallup told a reassuring story: "If [Obama's] losing 4 points [in Gallup and Rasmussen] and that's a good week, I'd hate to see a bad week."

    Obama has since ticked up in the Gallup tracking poll, to a lead in the mid-single digits, while Rasmussen continues to show a nearly deadlocked race.

    Most pollsters don't sample according to any set distribution of Republicans, Democrats and independents because partisan identification is not a set attribute like age, race and sex but rather something survey-takers are trying to measure to gauge the public's political sentiments at the moment.

    "If you look at our party ID trend in 2006 we had Democrats outweighing Republicans 49-41," recalled Kohut. "In 2010 it was only a 47 to 43 margin. If we had adjusted that we would've missed the boat on how Republican's won."

    For this to be questioned has exasperated some longtime pollsters.

    "Party identification is basically an attitudinal variable, not a stable population parameter. It is designed to vary," wrote Gallup chief Frank Newport last week in a piece titled "The Recurring -- and Misleading -- Focus on Party Identification."

    Yet some Republicans, seeing some polls with a partisan identification breakdown unlikely to resemble the make-up of a state, believe it's time to start weighing by party.

    Veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres said his preference would be for survey-takers to weight their data according to an average of the party ID results they get over the course of an election cycle, in order to minimize variation.

    "The poor journalists who get this data are in the position of having to explain why Obama went up by seven in this month and down by seven in that month, even though nothing happened and they know in their gut that nothing happened," said Ayres, who added: "I don't buy this sinister motivation that some people attribution to polls. I just think it's the luck of the draw when you're drawing a sample."

    Ayres argued there's no reason to avoid reality-based polling, which he said still show a winnable race: "Are things not going as well as they should for the Romney campaign? Of course, that's just obvious. But we're at the start of the fourth quarter and the guy is a field goal behind."

    GOP pollster David Winston, whose firm produced a poll recently showing Obama with a two-point lead nationally, said pollsters should strive to explain their results to the public in the setting of the partisan sample their surveys turn up: "When you come back with results, you should make sure that you are effectively explaining that ballot test in the context of the demographics contained within the survey."

    Asked if he could recall another cycle when one side had so consistently refused to believe unwelcome polling results, Winston recalled the 1998 election, when congressional Republicans were stunned on Election Day to lose seats in the House of Representatives.

    "You go back to '98, where Republicans were just convinced that likely voters were showing where the electorate was at, and so you had some saying - and I was not one of them - that this reinforces that Republicans are going to pick up 20 to 30 seats," Winston said. "It turned out not to be the universe that actually showed up."

    That was, however, before the internet became the force it is now. Today, people can seek out polls that favor their side or even find a tonic in the arbitrary rejiggering of professional polls.

    "This is the world now," said Murphy. "Just talk to doctors. They all spend half their time explaining themselves to patients who looked stuff up on the internet and think their doctor is wrong."
  2. "Amazingly, rather than giving us a new age of enlightenment, where information efficiently flows to the masses and an informed consensus can be achieved - Google (GOOG) has actually polarized our nation because - no matter how asinine your opinion/interpretation of the facts may be - you can use Google to help you find thousands of other lunatics who agree with you and reinforce your wrong-headed beliefs
  3. Eight


    Then we are in a much better world. Those asshole doctors will ride roughshod over people, have always done just that in fact... same goes for professional pollsters.
  4. wjk


    LOL:D :D :D

    The old-style journalists of the mainstream media are so biased at this point that for anyone to indicate otherwise is an admission of complete ignorance, or even stupidity. If it wasn't for the internet, they'd still be misinforming the masses. They are still doing a pretty good job of it (by simply not reporting on matters of real consequence...especially when it hurts their cause.)

    On the other hand, let's take Univision. They are actually reporting facts about Fast and Furious. Crickets from the rest.

    Informed consensus cannot be achieved by a biased information flow any more than it can with the info flow of the web.
  5. In less then 40 days we can laugh at them and tell them how fucking stupid they are to believe that skewed poll bull shit :)
  6. wjk


    Remember that old saying about the last laugh? We'll see.
  7. Washington (CNN) – Two days before the first presidential debate, a new national survey indicates a very close contest between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.
    What happened. I thought CNN, NYT and Huff had already called it for Obama.
    Intrade down 5 pts.

    Obama's camp is in a full panic
  8. jem


    the irony... of a someone quoting this... who represents the opinion of at best 1 tenth of one percent of the people... you are a former fundamentalist, now over the top leftist, atheist, anti business, pro big tax, claimed stock trader... who pretends to love science but lies about it every chance he gets.

    This has to be one of the funniest things in ET history.

    Free Thinker you are the extreme person with the asinine inteprertation of facts... just look at your handle... free thinker...orwellian double speak for wacky party line leftist.
  9. jem


    it was a little earlier but the major polls have adjusted their sample size to mesh a bit better with reality. If they went to a balanced sample... it puts Romney in the lead.

    Plus the middle east is erupting and if Romney has a half staff... he is going to hang the ME and Obama's failed foreign policy.
  10. at least i use facts. you on the other had just make shit up as you go. over the years i have watched your credibility get destoyed on subjects of religion, intelligent design, global warming and now elections polls. you have no shame. but you are amusing.
    cant wait for the next thing you embarrass yourself with.
    #10     Oct 1, 2012